Food - Drink
What Makes Cincinnati Chili So Unique
The debate on where to find the best bowl of chili is a contested argument that makes folks hotter under the collar than a five-alarm bowl o' red. Today, Cincinnati battles it out with the Lone Star State for the title of chili capital, with variations on the recipe that send Texans into a tizzy.
The Best Chili
The unique chili that Ohioans have come to know and love is credited to Tom and John Kiradjieff, Greek immigrant brothers from Macedonia who settled in Cincinnati in the early 1920s. They created a variation of chili that featured Middle Eastern spices and resembled traditional Greek layered dishes like moussaka and pastitsio.
Cincinnati Chili
The spice blend, texture, and toppings are the three elements that set Cincinnati chili apart from the rest. Other chilis usually feature eye-watering spices, but Cincinnati chili has a sweeter flavor derived from cinnamon, allspice, sweet paprika, cloves, and oregano.
Unique Flavor
There are five ways to order chili in Cincinnati, and Texans may be disappointed to find out that beans don’t automatically come with the chili. “2-Way” chili will be served over spaghetti, “3-Way” will top it with cheddar cheese, “4-Way” will toss in diced onion, and “5-Way” will include red kidney beans.
How To Eat
Cincinnati chili is an acquired taste that has developed a cult following around its unique flavor and serving options. Its sweeter flavor profile, soft textures, uncommon pairing with pasta, and devoted fan base make it a stand-alone dish that can't be knocked until it's tried.
Why It’s Special